Violence for Everyone - Kingsman The Secret Service

This week, I am featuring Andrea Ziedenberg again. Clink here to read her earlier post. We both watched Kingsman separately and we're just dying to review it. Here are her thoughts:

Kingsman (2015) invigorated me. After watching it I immediately wanted to watch it again and create a tumblr devoted to the character Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).

Directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Taron Egerton as ‘Eggsy’ Unwin, Colin Firth as Harry Hart, Sophie Cookson as Roxy, Michael Caine as Arthur, Samuel L Jackson as Valentine, and the star, for me, was professional break-dancer Sofia Boutella as the knife-legged Gazelle.

Vaughn takes us through the spy movie motions but punches it up with giddy gore and winking asides.

  1. Where does this film take us? It takes us into a fantasy England, where humans are capable of amazing feats, super villains and aristocrats control the fate of the world, and heads explode in colourful puffs.
  2. How did this film make us feel? This film made me feel positively giddy, because of its well-coordinated violence and its silly humour. The kinetic action sequences are long and well designed. The best example is a Church massacre scored to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. Colin Firth’s Hart slaughters a pack of racist bigots in a chaotic ballet of impaling crosses and gun shots. The camera swirls around the church with action taking place in the foreground, in the background, and everywhere in between. It is truly exhilarating. I really can’t emphasize how amazing it was to see cartoonish gore in a spy film. Gazelle, Valentine’s henchman, has razor sharp legs and she cuts a man in two with them. In two! Her fight sequences were a thing of beauty. I appreciated the violence the most, but the humour was just as entertaining. The humour pokes fun at spy movie tropes or turns them on their head. For instance, the villainous Valentine cannot handle seeing blood or violence, and a princess offers not a kiss, but anal sex to the hero when he saves the world. Cheeky.
  3. What issues does this film tackle? Some have criticized the film for being too right wing, for its criticism of government interference and portraying environmentalists as insane. But I am easy to please and can forgive it these sins because of its excellent action sequences. The film also takes a stab at class issues. Eggsy, coming from a working class background, with the sneakers and accent to match, versus the old world aristocracy of the Kingsman, personified by Michael Caine and Colin Firth. In the end, the working class background gives you street smarts and heart, and aristocracy gives you nice suits and cool gadgets. A marriage between the two seems to work out best. Hence, Eggsy becomes a suited up suave gentleman, but one who can think on his feet. Power still rests in the hands of the elite, but at least they have somewhat diversified their ranks. Another issue in the film is masculinity. I love that Eggsy is a more sensitive chap than your average super spy (he saves a puppy!) and he strikes up a mutually beneficial friendship with spy Roxy. My biggest bone to pick with the film was the fact that they did not give Roxy a Kingsman suit, especially since she wins the spot over Eggsy, and that they did not allow her to take part in the final violent showdown between Eggsy, Gazelle, and Valentine. My second biggest issue was the first scene where the Kingsman are supposed to kill a Muslim. It smacks off the white man’s burden and is just plain old fashioned racism to have these white knights saving the world from brown and black adversaries. In IMDB, he is listed as the first character and referred to as "terrorist." Come on Great Britain...
  4. Was it fun? Hells yes! This movie is fun from start to finish. Fun is the whole point of the film, it’s a rollercoaster ride for entertainment only.
  5. Was it transformative? Hells no. This film is just a popcorn flick. Maybe it was transformative in that it made me want to learn how to do breakdancing stunts like Gazelle! Or it could be argued that it was transformative to the spy genre, in that it gave us a gorier and more tongue in cheek iteration of the same old tropes. Maybe the next James Bond will be more a of romp and less of a slog?

Overall, the film was a hoot and I highly recommend it when you want some fun escapist fare. Perhaps pair it with a Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)! You won’t be disappointed!

- Andrea